Column: Volunteers Green has become Kirkcaldy's forgotten space, and we need to change that
Lockdown enabled us to reconnect with our parks and green spaces across Kirkcaldy - apart from one.
Why does no-one use Volunteers Green as a place to meet or simply relax?It’s the sole green space in our town centre, but one which misses out on all the hubbub of life.
It stands silent and empty - a bit sad, unloved, probably even forgotten - while people flock to the waterfront, hit the beach, explore the Forth and then go back into town.
The green is historic, and I wonder if that weighs a little heavily on its shoulders as we see a new look waterfront emerge all around it.
What once spanned nine acres is now a relatively modest piece of grass surrounded by wooden benches a stone wall, uninspiring shrubs … and a giant hole in the middle.
For me, it feels dated and uninviting, but I’m not entirely sure why either.
The gates look fantastic - I love the giant arched sign at the top corner - and the planters are bright and modern, but, perhaps subconsciously, it tells you to stay out, to look in from afar only.
Volunteers Green certainly doesn’t say ‘come in.’
It never has - but, now more than ever, it should.
Re-connecting with where we live means bringing places back into use, and giving them new purpose.
People make places, and no byelaw exists that prevents us from turning Volunteers Green into our own mini version of Princes Street gardens - a place people meet, enjoy each other’s company, read a book, have food, or simply watch the world go by.
But still, a sense of formality, maybe even solemnity, seems to cling to it while all around it changes, modernises and bustles with activity.
But in standing still, it also lacks that sense of tranquility that can come with green spaces, so it’s not actually ‘doing’ anything of purpose other than it’s just there.
We can, and should, respect its history while still enjoying its outlook. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Imagine a Volunteers Green with a sensory garden similar to the one in Slessor Gardens, in Dundee -a place to explore regardless of ability or mobility - and a centrepiece which drew people to the middle rather than shoving them to the edges.
Imagine a green filled with art or sculpture which celebrates the town and all its great characters - instead of just a bland green carpet of nothing.
Imagine a green with a place that sold food and drink - another reason to step inside.
Imagine a green that resounded to music or laughter from a live show.
As a town we haven’t done anything of substance to change perceptions about Volunteers’ Green.
I don’t think it has actually changed at all since I first moved here in the mid 1980s. To this day it reminds me of the green outside my gran’s old house which had concrete, grass and a clothes line - and nothing to commend it.
Let’s get imaginative and finally make the most of our own dear green place ...